Abstract Background Gastric cancer (GCa) is one of the six major malignancies in the world with low survival rate. Although there are advances in therapeutic approaches, the prognosis of patients with GCa remains not optimistic. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the prognostic value of miR-324-5p, as well as its functional role in GCa progression. Methods The expression of miR-324-5p in tumor tissues and cell lines was examined using real-time quantitative PCR. The prognostic value of miR-324-5p in patients with GCa was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier survival curve and Cox regression analysis. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments were performed to evaluate the biological function of miR-324-5p during the progression of GCa, and a target gene of miR-324-5p was proposed. Results The expression of miR-324-5p was up-regulated in GCa tissues and cell lines. Patients with high expression of miR-324-5p had more cases with positive lymph node metastasis, advanced TNM stage, and worse overall survival compared with patients with low expression. The elevated miR-324-5p was an independent prognostic indicator of GCa. In addition, the inhibition of miR-324-5p could suppress GCa cell proliferation, migration and invasion and promote cell apoptosis, and PTEN was demonstrated to serve as a direct target of miR-324-5p in GCa progression. Conclusion The present study indicates that miR-324-5p overexpression predicts poor prognosis in GCa patients, and the reduction of miR-324-5p can inhibit GCa biological processes. PTEN is a target gene of GCa, which may mediate the biological function of miR-324-5p in GCa progression.